Marketing is a set of activities aimed at understanding and meeting customer needs. In the marketing area, the term “customer” is preferred to the terms consumer, buyer or user.
By customer, however, we are dealing with all stages of the buying and relationship process, from the prospect (person interested in more information about the brand and products) to the ex-customer (someone who has already bought and stopped buying) , including all intermediate steps in this relationship.
The goal of marketing is to understand the consumer so well that he becomes a customer of a company and never ceases to be one. Well-structured marketing is one that makes the product sell practically alone.
The marketing professional can act on several fronts, from planning to the relationship with consumers. You can take care of the initial strategies and even execute what was planned, as is the case with direct marketers.
In many companies, the sales area responds to the needs of marketing, executing the sales activities that are part of the customer relationship cycle. In other organizations, marketing supports the sales area, acting in the processes of commercial activities.
Today there are different aspects of marketing, such as sales- oriented marketing , relationship- oriented marketing, brand-oriented marketing (emphasis on branding ), product-oriented marketing, digital marketing, inbound marketing, among other aspects. Some aspects are just pompous titles created to sell some tool, others are responses to changes in society to which the marketing area needs to react.
Among the most relevant definitions of marketing, I selected those that really represent the total of marketing activities:
“An organizational function and a set of processes that involve creating, communicating and delivering value to customers, as well as managing their relationship with them, in a way that benefits the organization and its interested public”. – Definition of the American Marketing Association (2005)
“The activity, set of instructions and processes to create, communicate, distribute and exchange offers that have value for consumers, customers, partners and society as a whole”. – Definition of the American Marketing Association (2008)
“Satisfying the customer profitably, creating a value relationship with important customers”. – Philip Kotler
“Identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer needs profitably” .- Chartered Institute of Marketing
“The set of activities that aims to achieve exchange relations. This exchange takes place between the company’s products and services with the consumer’s purchasing power ”. – Raimar Richers
Positioning: the word that sums up marketing
Positioning is the relative position that brands, products and services occupy in the minds of their respective consumers. Occupying the best position is one of the fundamental tasks in any marketing effort.
There is a hierarchy in positioning. The first on the list, that is, the first product or service to remember, is the leading product. The others, starting from the second, are the secondary products, services and ideas.
There is a great advantage in being the leader. The product can be marketed with higher profit margins, and theoretically requires less investment in time, energy and money to be kept on top.
Secondaries, on the other hand, need extensive efforts to try to get closer to leaders, and the truth is that they do not always succeed. Such products are purchased only by those who cannot purchase the leading products and suffer most from variations in income or economic problems.
Marketing over time (the 4 eras)
At first, the basic definition of marketing referred to the administrative activity of data that emerged along with the culture of the 20th century, after changes in market scenarios.
The concept was modified in line with strategic market developments and added more as an organizational function in the creation of the process of generating value and improving management of resources for relationships with the final interested public.
Therefore, after the market generated such demand, and offered “n” negotiation possibilities, it became even more vital to easily generate a marketing system that would facilitate the sales process.
Even though the buying interest exists by itself, and because we know that there will always be a need to sell and trade, marketing comes with the main objective of making the negotiation effort something superfluous to generate the sale itself.
Thus, we can say that marketing aims to create products and services so well structured for the market in which they intend to operate, that they can sell themselves.
This was the path traced over time by evolution, which initially tried to generate the customer willing to purchase the object of sale, which transformed itself into offering something even more ready and elaborated directly in the public’s needs and what it seeks.
In summary, marketing has gone through different phases:
- 1a. Marketing era: product oriented (until 1945)
- 2a. Marketing era: sales oriented (post-war)
- 3a. Marketing era: relationship-oriented (post-1980)
- 4th. Age of Marketing: oriented towards social responsibility (21st Century)
Current marketing aims to understand the emotional factor generated by a brand and what drives the consumer to purchase, in order to convert needs and desires into sales. Selling goes beyond arguing and positioning yourself, as it is extremely important to understand when the purchase is made by desire or need.
A good example of this is B2B purchases – materials purchased for the production of other materials. Companies buy for the need to produce, and aim for final quality so as not to lose sales in the market, and thus create a structured and recognized brand.
In the B2C market, on the other hand, purchases are made out of necessity or desire generation, implying the desire for status, recognition or self-satisfaction (read about Maslow’s Pyramid ).
That is, when producers seek manufacturing quality to generate the status and name of a brand, they will sell in addition to the product or service produced, adding a positive image to their brand.
The difference between marketing and advertising
It is common to confuse the terms marketing and advertising, but the two areas differ. Marketing is focused on identifying a need, creating a product or service, communicating its existence to the market and, finally, following up after the sale through satisfaction surveys.
Advertising is directed to communication, focused on the disclosure that the company makes so that the public has a first contact with the idea / solution / product even before the purchase and consumption.
In short, advertising is one of the tentacles of marketing, and for many brands, it serves as the flagship responsible for sales success. But it is good to know that advertising does not work if marketing is not well structured.
A brand that advertises, takes customers to the point of sale but does not handle distribution due to logistical failures will have a reverse effect: it will cause sales to the competitor that is available at the point of sale.
The market sales cycle
You cannot talk about marketing without mentioning the sales cycle in the market, which summarizes the complete journey of the product, pointing out its different phases from creation to sales, from launch to decline.
The concept of the sales cycle assumes planned obsolescence, that is, it indicates that products are already born with a scheduled date to be removed from the market. The four phases of the product life cycle are:
Phase 1: launch
This is when the product or service is introduced to the market. Sales growth is almost always low, and may even show losses.
It is worth mentioning the famous case of Coca-Cola, which sold only 25 bottles in its first year. Today 1 in 3 inhabitants of the planet drinks a Coca-Cola every day.
Phase 2: growth
This second stage is where marketing increases and the customer starts to use the product or service more.
One of the characteristics present in this phase is that the other competitors can keep an eye on the idea, being able to produce similar products and / or even innovate the creation, bringing real competition to the brand.
The iPhone created the concept of SmartPhone and grew violently, to later be copied by competitors until it is no longer the best-selling SmartPhone in the world.
Phase 3: maturity
Here the fever from the first moment is usually over.
There is a stabilization in relation to sales. For companies, it is time to offer more promotional actions so that there is no loss of market share related to the product.
In some cases, the maturity phase is the one that brings the most profit to the company, as the product has already consolidated itself among consumer preferences and does not need as much investment to sell.
Phase 4: Decline
The last stage where there are changes, adaptations and substitutions. Some companies even withdraw the product or service from the market, or decrease the manufacture and availability of products in sales channels.
Legendary products like the Beetle and Kombi had a phase of decline and then a new phase of maturity, smaller, but of long duration, because they have no competitors (such as Kombi) or because they have a manufacturing and maintenance cost so low that a market share has never abandoned the Beetle.
The Beetle left the market due to obsolescence and the Kombi due to the legislation, since there was no way to install air bags safely in the vehicle.
Depending on the type of product, service or solution to be marketed, there are more suitable marketing approaches to be used. Know the main ones:
Solution chosen when communication is required is direct with the consumer, through letters, messages, calls and emails to the customer.
Direct marketing has undergone some important changes in recent years because of the growth in consumer power, in addition to the migration to the digital environment, and permission marketing has gained strength as a viable and updated alternative.
Marketing promoted through communication actions that use digital channels, such as websites, blogs, search engines, social networks, applications and other digital resources. Companies that do not invest in this type of marketing are doomed to stagnation.
A set of tactics that aim to attract, captivate and retain customers by creating and publishing useful content. With it you can find out what a specific target audience needs and wants, and from that, produce content that is relevant and attractive. This is a derivation of permission marketing and is meant to help consumers buy.
Marketing that includes a series of tactics to take care of and assign a final value to the personal image. More broadly, it aims to add value to the quality of work through the development of a series of intrapersonal and interpersonal attitudes. Used by professionals, celebrities, public people, politicians and professionals who want to stand out.
Marketing of relationship
Marketing aimed at building and sustaining a relationship with customers. When properly applied, it allows excellent results for the company, reaching the highest level of customer attitude towards a brand, brand advocacy.
Why invest in marketing
Once a product or service has been developed, companies need to get it to the consumer. This is basically the function of marketing, and without it, an organization will not be able to develop effective actions that will help it successfully meet its business goals.
Marketing is important for any business model, of any size, in any industry. He is present in all the actions of the organization, inside and outside it.
Marketing adopts a context with numerous communication strategies and develops processes that manage to elevate an idea, product or service to a prominent status in the market.
The success of a business is often due to its reputation. When a company reaches and exceeds the expectations of the public, its reputation is consolidated, and as it expands, the business grows and sales increase accordingly.
Marketing is the area responsible for planning and managing the business processes that allow the company to build this good reputation and generate value.
A customer’s perception of value of a brand depends on marketing.
Customers value goods with the quality they expect and to be sold at the prices they wish to pay, and this cannot be defined outside of good marketing planning.
How to develop a good marketing strategy
Explaining how to implement marketing is not something we can do in a few lines. It takes time to understand every detail that makes up a good marketing strategy.
And the way in which marketing is carried out also depends on the business context, objectives and other aspects.
But I will include here, in summary, how you can start implementing a marketing area in your company today.
The first step is to develop a marketing plan , an extremely important management tool for the development of a company.
It is a written document detailing the actions necessary to achieve one or more objectives in the area of marketing, and can be used both for a product, a service and for product lines.
Generally, a marketing plan is composed of the following parts: executive summary and summary, current marketing situation, analysis of opportunities, objectives, action programs, statement of planned results, implementation, control and feedback.
But, in parallel to this formatting, it is necessary to go through some steps:
Here, all the information necessary for the development of goals is systematized and processed.
Market analysis and marketing planning come into play, the identification of threats and opportunities that will guide all planning, etc. It is an elaborate stage, which requires intelligence and perspicacity.
After doing a good planning , it is time to execute the marketing plan, with the identification of the activities to be performed, observation of the execution deadlines, sequence and order of priority.
It is always important to delegate responsibilities indicated to each employee and to raise the estimated costs of all actions.
Evaluation and Control
In this step, the results are evaluated and the difference between the expected performance and the real results is better understood, in order to adjust the next actions or correct the route route.
But, a detail, this is not a step necessarily made after the implantation, because it must occur all the time, measuring and evaluating each effort or action, from which preventive or corrective actions can derive.
In addition to the marketing plan already mentioned, which is a marketing tool, there are many others that a marketer should master and that companies can use. I will name a few now.
The market research is a tool to identify the brand, product or service is communicating with the right people, and point out what changes are needed to increase sales results.
Surveys are usually done with direct questions to the consumer through direct or online questionnaires. You can develop market research before developing a product, during its life cycle or also to analyze market opportunities.
Understanding the customer is the key piece that makes the whole marketing area work. Without understanding the customer, there is no product that is successful.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
The SEO is one of the main marketing tools today in the digital context. It is a set of strategies that aim to optimize a website in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
A company that wants to be found today needs to invest in SEO, and in this case, content marketing comes into play, because without good content, your website will not be properly optimized to be able to appear prominently on Google.
Treating social media as business tools is an indispensable attitude for those who want to generate results with marketing.
The importance of this type of channel for strategic marketing management for any company is already more than proven, regardless of its size. Companies must be where their customers are, and they are on social media.
E-mail marketing as a resource began to be used in the 1990s, when entrepreneurs and marketers realized the opportunity that this new form of digital communication represented for business.
As technology and the internet evolved, the tool was consolidated and increasingly adopted in a commercial way.
Content marketing is the apple of the eye of business in this current age. It is he who makes sense of what has been done with marketing in the digital sphere today.
That is why having and mastering a content plan is an essential task for companies and marketers.
How to begin
My objective with this article was to bring, in an objective and relevant way, an overview of what marketing is.
If you have read this far, you are no longer a layman, and if you already understood a little about the subject, you had the chance to improve your knowledge.
If you have any questions or would like to make a comment, there is a comment space reserved below. We will be pleased to answer you.